New Katy Perry album a mixed ‘Dream’

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Photo courtesy albumcoverproject.com

Two years ago, she was the provocative newcomer who kissed a girl and liked it.

Now, Katy Perry is extending her notoriety with her sophomore album “Teenage Dream,” which dropped Aug. 24.

You’ve probably heard the album’s first single “California Gurls.” A fun and flirty tribute to the ladies of the Golden Coast, it became the de facto summer anthem after getting played on the radio several gazillion times a day.

In the latter half of the summer, Perry followed it up with “Teenage Dream.” The title and opening track on the album embraces the spontaneity and immediacy of young love — a theme that resonates well with both her contemporary teenage audience and older listeners.

Both are songs not much deeper than their lyrics such as, “Sun-kissed skin, so hot/We’ll melt your Popsicle” and “Let you put your hands on me/In my skin-tight jeans,” respectively. Except for a few exceptions, it’s pretty much what you can expect from the album.

Take “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” as yet another example. Appealing to the adolescent party culture that is the subject of nearly every Perry song, it depicts nightlife at its finest, and includes a jazzy interlude that gives it a “Roaring ‘20s” vibe. Unafraid to utilize controversy as a lyrical attention-getter, Perry belts out phrases like “Last Friday night, we went streaking in the park, skinny dipping in the dark, then had a ménage à trois.” That’s quite the Friday night.

But Perry’s risqué songwriting doesn’t stop there. “Peacock” is handcrafted for those with a dirty mind, leaving nothing and everything to the listener’s imagination with lyrics like “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? Don’t be a chicken, boy – stop acting like a ‘beeotch.’” While two bird references in the same line of lyrics may seem like paltry poultry to some, the catchiness of the hooks might be enough to get it a perch on radio.

A surprisingly less shallow song is “Firework,” which speaks instead of self-empowerment. Rather than emphasize the superficiality of the party life, Perry decides to inspire listeners at their low points by reminding them that everyone is original and individual, like a firework.

Unfortunately, the message in itself is lost in the song’s convoluted clichés and trite analogies. It’s also a bit hypocritical that Perry devotes most of her songs to decadence and partying, and then creates a song about individuality and self-esteem. Even the vocal quality of the song is sub-par, featuring singing that approaches the borderline of yelling. It’s an admirable effort, but Perry needs to stick to what she’s good at: songs about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

Unlike “Firework,” the track “E.T.” is a standout that’s actually worthwhile. No, it’s not about the friendly alien — the song is about a “futuristic lover” whose love is new and foreign to Perry. Overemphasized snare and bass create a formidable beat to accompany the synthesized beeping that rolls behind Perry’s yearning voice. It’s easy to imagine this song swelling through the speakers of a nightclub with its techno-inspired sound. For those seeking a departure from Perry’s usual bubblegum pop style, try “E.T.” — it is one of her best efforts on “Teenage Dream.”

So, is “Teenage Dream” hot or cold? Yes or no? In or out? Up or down?

Hot, yes, in and up.

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